Above: The Modern Christmas Tree at the iconic Case Study House #22 – the Stahl House – located in Los Angeles and designed by Pierre Koenig in 1959. Photo: J.C. Buck / modernchristmastrees.com
My Grandpa’s name was Lawrence Stoecker, although most people called him “Bud”. But to us, he was simply Grandpa.
He designed his first version of a modern Christmas tree, made of concentric rings, in the mid 1960’s. He loved making things with his hands and even had his own business building and selling A-frame cabins in the Rocky Mountains. The business meant long hours of work and required the support of the entire family with his four sons and daughter working as his employees.
The first inception of the Modern Christmas Tree created by Matt Bliss' grandfather in the 1960's. Click on image for full view.5195 false true true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 auto false 0 true true
The Modern Christmas tree was originally made of cardboard, then Masonite board before my grandfather finally settled on plexiglass, which he continued to develop throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. The tree was a highlight of Christmas Eve’s spent at their home near Boulder, Colorado and as kids we would put our heads under the tree and look up and then my grandfather would slowly spin the tree. So beautiful!
In 2006 we helped move my Grandma and Grandpa into a retirement community. When moving some stuff in their garage I uncovered his tree. Although he hadn’t put it up for Christmas in nearly 15 years it still brought back many great memories for me. I asked him if I could have it and of course he said yes. I think he got a kick out of me even wanting it.
I put the tree up in my house that Christmas and there it stayed for several years. Shortly after my Grandma passed away he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was that moment that I decided to show his tree, to updated it. I made some changes and it was first revealed at the Denver Modernism show in 2011. I wondered, would people love it like I do? They did.
The Modern Christmas Trees decorate the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. Click on image for full view.5196 false true true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 auto false 0 true true
Sadly, my grandfather passed away on September 25th 2012 a week before I was issued a patent on the design. Weeks later our family celebrated his life at an exhibition of his trees at the original Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California, and the exhibit continues to be a part of Disney’s annual holiday festivities.
The Modern Christmas Tree at the Sculptured House - better known as the 'Sleeper House' - designed by Charles Deaton in 1963. Click on image for full view.5197 false true true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 auto false 0 true true
The tree has also been photographed in a few of the most important Mid Century Modern homes in the United States, including the Stahl House in Los Angeles, California designed by Pierre Koenig and immortalized by the photographs of Julius Shulman. The list also includes the Sculptured House designed by Charles Deaton, later coined the Sleeper House, made famous by the movie Sleeper, directed by and starring Woody Allen.
The Modern Christmas Tree at the iconic Case Study House #22 - the Stahl House - located in Los Angeles and designed by Pierre Koenig in 1959. Click on image for full view.5198 false false true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 false 0 true true
My Grandpa’s signature is laser engraved on the bottom ring of every tree made and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in his name. More information about the Modern Christmas Trees can be found here at modernchristmastrees.com.
Matt Bliss' Modern Christmas Trees. Click on image for full view.5201 false false true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 false 0 true true
Check out these great books!